The Xbox Adaptive Controller is influencing “a huge inclusive design effort” at Microsoft, one of its creators has said.
The device, which was made available to buy in September last year, allows gamers to use their own buttons, joysticks and switches to mimic a standard controller. It has won a Golden Joystick Award and received widespread praise for making it easier for people with limited mobility to play videogames.
The controller has also been included in a gallery devoted to groundbreaking design at the V&A museum in London. Chris Kujawski, a Principal Designer at Microsoft, spoke at an event on accessible design at the museum.
Kujawski said the inclusive design philosophy behind the Xbox Adaptive Controller could be extended: “I think it will make its way into other products, so it will be more of an organic growth of that mentality through other products. There is a huge inclusive design effort at Microsoft just from a user interface and software perspective.
“The Xbox Adaptive Controller is a good first step to just make people aware that this is something you should do, and how you can make a product better.”
There are around a billion people across the world with a disability, including 13.9 million people in the UK. Research from Muscular Dystrophy UK found that one-in-three of the young disabled people they represent has been forced to stop playing videogames due to their disability.
UK charities welcomed the device, as well as its packaging, which has been specially designed to be opened by gamers with limited mobility.
Despite all the praise, Kujawski said there is always more than can be done. “We are always looking for feedback from users because this is so different to anything we have done,” he said. “It needs time to be on sale and have people experience it. I know there are things we will hear about because there is so much recognition of the controller. That’s a really positive thing, because it brings awareness to something that’s very important, which is helping everyone play games.”
Kujawski said that willingness to learn and show a “humble attitude” was a key part of the design process from the beginning. However, just like the standard Xbox controller, they were designing a device that would be used for every type of game.
“It’s not like disabled gamers play one type of game, so it was about opening up the platform to more people who have a variety of interests. That’s the power of it,” he said.